Here is part of what I said during the Zoom event (watch it on YouTube) for the announcement of the winning manuscript for the 2022 Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize:
This September marks the 50th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines by the late deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The lies that continue to be spread by Cambridge Analytica-trained social media handlers of the Marcoses will keep trying to decimate the memory of those who fought the regime.
My manuscript doesn’t just tackle martial law, but I chose these particular poems today to highlight the anniversary of the declaration.
There are four sections – Bound by Wood, The Belly of a Termite, Something in Its Grip, and Resonate. The first three sections deal with nature, politics, and departures respectively. The fourth has all three, but the themes are bound together by a single line from a song by Icelandic musician Bjork, a line “misheard” in different ways becomes the title of each poem in the final section.
“Injured in the Night” is among the poems I read, written for Joel Pablo Salud who has many interesting stories about those martial law years.
Injured in the Night
for Joel Pablo Salud
September is a war of memories
in the home country. Roads and alleys,
unmarked cemeteries. Billboards
are nothing but metal skeletons hiding
behind the clash of colours on tarpaulin.
The promise of whiter skin looms
over the patchwork maze of shacks.
No one mends a bullet-ridden car.
It becomes fodder to the crunching jaws
of scrap machinery, not a piece of evidence.
Who will remember those injured
in the night, the disappeared?
Are we only here to scavenge
a landscape where smoke coils
long after the last burning?